9 Ways Cities Can Be More Pet Friendly
Last month we released the results of our Summer Pet Travel Survey and reported that the biggest challenge pet travelers face is finding pet friendly things to do and places to eat with their furry companions. On one hand, that’s good news – finding pet friendly accommodations used to be the most difficult part of traveling with our pets. Fortunately, we’ve cleared that hurdle as more hotels have become pet friendly and websites like GoPetFriendly.com are making it easy to locate them.
Now that we’ve identified the latest pet travel snag, we have some suggestions for cities hoping to attract this growing demographic of tourists:
1. Allow Restaurants To Be Pet Friendly
We’ve been in many towns where local law prohibits restaurant owners from allowing pets at their sidewalk, patio, or deck seating. City hall is tying the hands of the businesses in their community and simultaneously dismissing an entire population that would otherwise be happy to visit their town and spend some money.
Changing the statutes would give restauranteurs the option to set their own policies regarding pets, rather than having the decision made for them. Of course, bring this up and you’ll meet the usual suspects … it’s not clean to have pets at restaurants, people will get bitten, the staff will be petting the dogs and then serving the food. This is my response: take a look around the country. From Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon people are eating out with their dogs. Other cities are clearly finding a way to make it work – you will too.
2. Provide Waste Stations
A small investment means a lot when it comes to pet waste stations. These little bag/trash can combos broadcast the “pets are welcome here” message better than anything else – and they also work to your benefit by encouraging pet owners to pick up after their dogs.
3. Welcome Pets In Parks
There’s nothing more unjust for a dog who’s been pounding the pavement all day to be told that sniffing around in the nice, green grass isn’t allowed. Central Park in New York, Balboa Park in San Diego … some of the most impressive outdoor spaces in the country are pet friendly.
The concern that some people will not pick up after their pets is justified, and I completely agree that those people suck. But don’t punish us all for a few bad apples! For every irresponsible pet owner, there is one who will pitch in by picking up someone else’s abandoned waste. Put a couple of those waste stations around and you might be surprised how well people will behave.
4. Promote Pet Friendly Businesses
Make it easy for pet owners to figure out where they’re welcome, and I guarantee they’ll show up! Annapolis, following the lead of cities like Saratoga Springs, launched the Pet Friendly Annapolis campaign this summer and put stickers in the windows of every pet friendly shop and restaurant in town. This is a fantastic way for businesses to quickly and easily communicate their pet policy and puts pet travelers at ease when exploring your downtown.
5. Give Them A Place To Walk
Dogs aren’t much for sitting around, so having a place to stretch their legs is always appreciated. We’ve followed the trolley route around Savannah, struck out on the Freedom Trail in Boston, and taken a scenic stroll toward the mountains in Salida, and they each have their own charm. If you can tie in the charm that makes your town special, that’s even better! Oh, and don’t forget #2 above.
6. Keep Your Sense of Humor
Reminders are good and the information you’re sharing is important … but it can also be fun. We saw this sign in Bend, Oregon almost two years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. It communicates the message without being preachy or threatening. Whether you’re asking people to leash their pets or pick up after them, doing it with a sense of humor will get better results.
7. A Park To Call Their Own
For a lot of pet travelers, there’s no more welcome sight at the end of a long day in the car than an off-leash park. Where better for a pooch to burn of some energy frolicking with the other dogs or having a game of fetch? It doesn’t have to be fancy – it just needs to be a safe place where a dog can be a dog.
8. Don’t Discriminate
Breed specific legislation is ineffective, unjustified, and cruel. Pet travelers are a savvy bunch, and there’s nothing they hate more than seeing one of their own being kicked while they’re down. Rather than spend their money in cities or states that discriminate against certain breeds of dogs, they’ll find a pet friendly destination where all pets are welcome!
9. Make It Easy To Find
Perhaps you’ve done all the things listed above, but you’re having trouble getting the word out to pet travelers. That’s where we can help! Make sure the pet friendly businesses and attractions in your city are listed on GoPetFriendly.com so when people are sniffing around, they’ll be sure to see everything your area has to offer. And, for the folks checking your city’s visitor information website, consider providing them with a link to the GoPetFriendly.com city snapshot for your town!
What are your suggestions for cities looking to attract more pet travelers? Let them know in the comments below!